National

Sep 27, 2010 8:32 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Failing 1890s-era levee prompts evacuations

Some residents in the central Wisconsin town of Portage have fled their homes after a levee started to fail.

Water from the rain-swollen Wisconsin River flooded the only road in and out of one neighborhood, threatening to leave people stranded in their houses.

It wasn't clear how many of the roughly 300 residents remained in the Blackhawk Park area after the access road was closed. Officials say water is leaking from the Caledonia Levee south of Highway 33, although it has not completely collapsed.

The levee is part of the Caledonia-Lewiston Levee System. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the system is made up of several dikes built mainly out of sand during the 1890s by homeowners living near the river.

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